‘Vicky Cristina Barcelona’

Dream scenes: memorable moments from '08

The premise is simple: Catalan lothario Juan Antonio (Javier Bardem) spies Americans Cristina (Scarlett Johansson) and Vicky (Rebecca Hall) at a restaurant. Hoping to gather his rosebuds while he may, he approaches them with a straightforward proposition: The three of them are to leave within the hour for nearby Oviedo, where they will see a particular statue, eat well, drink wine and make love. Underpinning his ardor with a dose of Hobbesian metaphysics, he adds: “Life is short. Life is dull. Life is full of pain. And this is a chance for something special.” Cristina responds well to the proposal, Vicky responds badly; Juan Antonio seems surprised by neither and starts to build his case. And with that, writer-director Woody Allen and three expert actors turn the premise for many a softcore porno into the year’s smartest, most charming, most unexpectedly sweet scene of seduction.

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